Tuesday, March 24

The Art Of 'Stepping Up'

. Tuesday, March 24

Ask anybody with access to promo copies of soon to be released albums what they are currently listening to and you will be met with two likely answers: The Maccabees and The Horrors. Both these bands forthcoming second albums are creating undue amounts of buzz, hype and any other words that mean 'journalists like this'. Interestingly both acts are being praised for making albums immeasurably better than their debut albums. Personally I have always found The Maccabees and The Horrors to be two of the most misunderstood bands around.

It has always struck me people associate The Maccabees with 'landfill indie' and the mass swathes of indeti-kit groups who emerge and disappear without making a lasting ripple. However when I listen to The Maccabees I hear a band with a heart as deep as a well and more romanticism than a thousand Pete Doherty B-Sides. 2007's 'Colour It In' is ram packed full of naive tales of young love set to a skewered post-punk backdrop. 'X-Ray', 'Latchmere' and 'About Your Dress' should be indie disco floor-fillers for eternity and 'Toothpaste Kisses' or 'First Love' could soundtrack a thousand burgeoning love affairs. So when I first heard the new material from the Brighton four piece's new album 'Wall Of Arms' I was far from shocked at how good it was. Cries of enjoyment spread across message boards of "It's like The National with bigger production" or "This is so not what I was expecting" as each album copy dropped on every door step. To me 'No Kind Words' and 'Love You Better' sound like the band I knew existed landing the sucker punch they had previously promised.

If The Maccabees were underrated then The Horrors were rated, slated and hated to the nth degree. I'm not sure a more divise band has existed in recent times and that's what I have always loved about them. There are two sticks the detractors hit The Horrors with A) They are ripping off bands like The Sonics and The Cramps B) They are style over substance. The latter of these complaints has always struck me as a nonsense insult. So what if a band look like they have taken more than five minutes to get dressed? I like a band to look better than their audience. As for their music well sure, they wear their influences on their sleeves but for a relatively mainstream band they have decidedly left field tastes and the same can be said for their music. Having seen the band play with such 'pioneers' as The View, The Automatic and the The Fratellis I can tell you there is no greater pleasure than seeing a confused lad rock devotee staring stage-wards with a mixture of fear and anger spreading across his face as he realises there will be no opportunity to throw his pint in the air arriving any time soon. Much like The Maccabees Faris Badwan and co. have made a significant step up with their second album 'Primary Colours' (full review coming soon). For a band who have always been uncomprimising the whole record is an subversive middle finger to their harshest critics.

In an industry so willing to chew up new bands and spit them out again it is encouraging to see two bands taking risks on their second records and coming out victorious. It's the attitudes of the people who had written these bands off that is suspect. How are bands meant to develop and grow when they are so quickly pigeon holed? It's no wonder acts turn in carbon copies of their debuts when that is what the world seems to want them to do. Support bands, have faith, allow them to take their time over things and good results will come. Hopefully The Horrors and The Maccabees will inspire more bands to take the necessary risks.

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